I am still applying for full-time teaching jobs with no luck; I've even contemplated getting my old job back at Expensive Clothing Store, where I would get paid slightly more than the minimum wage to say, "Thank you! Come again!" when I really want to say, "I bet when you sold your soul, Satan flinched and offered a refund."
One of the benefits to being single is that I can apply for jobs pretty much anywhere, since I don't have to worry about how a move to a different city or state would affect my spouse or kids. I'd like to stay in Chicago, but I'd also like to wake up looking like Sofia Vergara tomorrow. Unfortunately, the chances of either situation happening are highly unlikely. The former is especially difficult to achieve, due to the draconian budget cuts that the governor is implementing, which have severely and negatively affected the schools in Illinois.
I've applied for jobs all over the country, everywhere from New York City to tiny towns in West Virginia with only a thousand local residents. I'd prefer to live in a big city, rather than a small town that is similar to the small town that I spent eighteen years wanting to escape from. But most colleges are in smaller or medium-sized towns.
Small town life isn't all bad. I do miss the peace and quiet, and how, when I was a child, I used to lie on the grass next to my dog and hear nothing but birds chirping and my dog barking at passers-by. In the city, I lie on my bed and hear sirens blaring, horns honking, and my neighbors yelling, "Chug! Chug! Chug!" as they gulp down their umpteenth beer.
I don't miss the fact that in a small town, everyone not only knew each other, they knew everyone else's business. So if you made any big or small decision in that town, everyone would know within days (or hours), and they'd be sure to throw in their two cents. I like the anonymity of Chicago, where I can walk down the street and not run into an old acquaintance who wants to rehash one of the many times I publicly embarrassed myself at school.
I miss the sight of farmland and wide open spaces, unlike Chicago, where everyone is always bumping into each other or pushing each other to make space for themselves. I remember crossing the street in my hometown and waving to drivers I recognized, whereas in Chicago drivers are much more likely to honk and scream at me for not moving fast enough. I respond by screaming, "I'll move faster...in HELL!"
I don't miss the fact that in my hometown, it seemed like everyone was expected to be the same. If you were even a little bit different, you were a freak, and everyone treated you like a freak. And that was my life for eighteen years, because I was different. I'm not saying that all small towns are like that, because they're not; I'm sure that other towns are more accepting. But one thing I like about Chicago is that there are a lot of people who are much "freakier" than I am, and here, they're viewed as "cool". I don't have to hide who I am here, and I've always felt more comfortable here than I ever did in my hometown.
It makes me sad when I think about leaving Chicago and all the things I'll miss (which is another post in itself). But I always knew that my time here came with an expiration date. The thing about the academic job market is that you can't afford to be choosy. You have to go where the work is. So if I end up in a town even smaller than the one I grew up in, so be it, as long as I get to teach at a good school. But as my rejection letters pile up, I am starting to lose hope that I'll find anything.
Also, I really don't want to go back to working in retail, because I think that a few days at my old store just might end with several customers running out of the store, shrieking, while I chase after them with a mannequin.
What about you? Do you prefer city life or life in a small town?
Interview with… Adam Byatt - Today it’s the turn of Adam Byatt to sit down and share his writing with us. This is my 13th interview, and there are still some wonderful authors to come!...
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